The pandemic hit every sector hard. But for some industries, the impact has been more long-lasting and more difficult to recover from. This is certainly the case for the restaurant industry.
By March 2020, a shocking 10% of all US restaurants had given their staff notice and closed for good. The food truck sector was hit even harder. According to statistics shared by Restaurant Dive, 22.5% of them went out of business, during the pandemic. The number of closures slowed after that point, but many more did close.
Even today many cafes, bars, and restaurants are still struggling to stay open. Their owners are trying everything to continue to make a profit. Including adopting innovative technology to help them to keep their doors open. Here we look at some of the tech that is currently being used by the industry. Then peek at some of the innovations that are likely to be adopted soon.
Great ROI from the Introduction of Digital Screens
Not all the technology that is being introduced is radically new. It is the way it is being used that is proving to be transformative. Take, for example, the use of digital screens.
Most restaurants only started to use them during the pandemic. They realized that digital screens were the easiest way to remind customers of restrictions and staff of the heightened hygiene standards they needed to adhere to. When it was no longer necessary to do this the use of restaurant digital sign menu boards soared as owners looked for new ways to utilize the screens they had invested in, during the pandemic.
Switching to digital menus enables restaurateurs to change prices from one day to the next, which with soaring food prices is an important feature. It also makes it easier for them to cook foods that are in season. They can add a new dish in moments. Then, remove it when it has sold out.
Customer Ordering Technology
They also like having more choices when it comes to how they order their food. Some customers still want to arrive at a table, sit down and wait for someone to bring them a menu. Others prefer to be served super-fast. They want to sit down, and then scan a QR code that takes them to the menu online so that they can decide what they want before their server arrives.
Increasingly people do not always want to dine in. They want to be able to go online, order something, pop to a local shop, and return to the restaurant after that to pick up their food.
Technology is enabling restaurants to accommodate all these ordering preferences. You can find out more about how they are doing this by reading this article.
Kitchen Management Technology
A lack of staff is one of the biggest challenges facing the restaurant industry. It has become extremely difficult to find people who are willing to work the long hours required. This is especially the case for kitchen staff. The work is skilled, but the pay is poor, and spending a long shift standing up in a super-heated environment does not appeal to many people.
That is why a lot of the modern technology that is on the verge of being introduced is focused on the kitchen. Restaurants are finding ways to make the job easier for their staff, while, at the same time, improving their efficiency. Examples of this kind of tech include:
- Faster cooking using impinger ovens and smart technology
- Automating food safety checking and workflow
- Investing in food preservation tech to enable staff to prep a higher percentage of the food in advance.
The Future is Likely to be Robotic
All the technology we have already talked about in this article is being used widely and is making a positive difference. It is helping everyone involved in the industry to work more efficiently and serve customers better. But that is only a part of the story.
The restaurant industry is already on the verge of another transformative change. The future likely belongs to robots. The more restaurants struggle to hire front-of-house staff and cooks, the more likely it is that this will be the case.
Kitchen robots are already being used in a few places. For example, the White Castle chain is already using them to make French fries and the Flippy system by Miso is also starting to be adopted by fast-food restaurants. You can read more about all of this by clicking here.